PENGUINS BEGIN MARCH WITH 4-2 WIN OVER ADMIRALS
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Konstantin Pushkarev scored the game-winning goal, and John Curry turned aside 27 shots to help the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals.
The Penguins would open the scoring at 5:50 of the first period, just 19 seconds after killing off Norfolk’s first power play of the game. Rookie defenseman Alex Grant would find a loose puck near the bottom of the left faceoff circle. He turned a shot toward the net and banked the puck behind Admirals goaltender Dustin Tokarski for the 1-0 lead. Nick Johnson and Eric Tangradi earned the helpers. But just under five minutes later, the Admirals would knot the score as a shot came on goal, forcing Curry to slide to his left. He ended up out of position, and Adam Hall was able to slip the puck behind two Penguins defensemen and over the goal line.
Working on the final half-minute of their third power play of the game, the hosts would take a 2-1 lead after a Wyatt Smith pass ended up in front of the net. Tim Wallace was there to jam the puck home and pick up his 18th goal of the season. Regning Reebok/AHL Player of the Month, Chris Conner, picked up the second assist.
Once again the Admirals would tie the score at two as defenseman Zach Tarkir sent the puck toward the slot for a waiting Blair Jones. The Admirals’ center took the pass and fired a wrist shot past Curry’s blocker at 10:07.
The Penguins would then lose the services of defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who had a game misconduct penalty tacked on to his fighting major, after a scrap at center ice with Norfolk blueliner Scott Jackson at 10:10.
One of the five remaining Penguins defensemen, Chris Lee, then made a great individual effort at 8:06 of the third period. He faked around a Norfolk forward, collected the rebound of his blocked shot, and fired a backdoor pass to Pushkarev who was waiting at the right of Tokarski’s crease. Pushkarev sent a wrist shot over Tokarski’s glove to give the Penguins the lead for good. Dustin Jeffrey punctuated the win with an empty-net goal with under four seconds remaining.
Curry’s 27 saves bumped his record up to 21-16-1, while Tokarski turned 30 Penguins shots aside but fell to 22-17-1. The Penguins had another perfect penalty kill, finishing 4-for-4, while going 1-for-3 on the power play.
The Penguins will hit the road for a pair of key division matchups this weekend. The team will face off against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday at 7:30 pm, and then head to Giant Center to battle the Hershey Bears on Saturday at 7:00 pm. The team will return home one week from tonight, Wednesday March 10th, for a 7:05 pm battle with the Albany River Rats.
NOTES: The Penguins won their 20th home game of the season… The team improved to 21-17-0-1 against East Division foes… C Wyatt Smith became the fifth Penguins player to reach 40 points this season with his power-play assist.